CHALMETTE – A neighborhood watched in fear on Saturday night as flames from the Chalmette Refinery shot in the air.
"It was going, the flames were going I bet 100 feet in the air,” resident Lori Cauthen said.
Sunday afternoon, Chalmette Refinery spokesperson Elizabeth Frost said the flaring was a planned event and St. Bernard Parish alerted residents on its Facebook Page.
Now Frost says, the size and intensity of the flare was due to an “unplanned event” that happened during routine maintenance.
According to a Louisiana refinery database, the Chalmette Refinery had 560 accidents between a 10-year-old period, from 2005 to 2014. That resulted in more than 7 million pounds of air pollutants and 12 million gallons of water or ground pollutants accidentally released. Residents living in the area wonder if accidents end up making them sick.
"My mom has had bladder cancer. My sister in law lived a couple streets over, she passed away from cancer,” Cauthen said.
"It keeps you sick. If it's not you it's your grandchildren, you're always sick,” resident Samantha Lewis said.
Frost said, “We take seriously our commitment to safe, reliable and environmentally responsible operations.”
Residents however, remain skeptical.
"My parents live here and they're elderly. If something were to happen how would they know how would they get out?" Cauthen said.